Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


November 21, 2013

Funky music

Ashland Youth Ballet makes modern changes to ‘Nutcracker’

ASHLAND — “The Nutcracker” takes a turn for the modern when Ashland Youth Ballet presents “The FunKiKraKr” at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Paramount Arts Center.

Maria Whaley, director, instructor and owner of Ashland Regional Dance Theatre, home of the ballet, said she worked with Paramount technical director Ritch Collins to alter the traditional music for the ballet.

“Ritch took the soundtrack and put some synthesized sounds behind it so what we normally think of as ‘The Nutcracker’ is ‘The FunKiKraKr,’” she said. “During the show, The Nutcracker will be the disc jockey spinning the records,” she noted, comparing the Nutcracker to the Wizard in “Wizard of Oz.”

She said the story is of Clara in modern times looking at photo albums and imagining what it would have been like to have been her great-great-grandmother.

“The 1890s cast comes out of the wardrobe in the toy room,” Whaley said, leading to interaction between characters from the past and present. “It’s confusing, but it’s a lot of fun.”

She said “The Nutcracker” has seen many adaptations and she likes to make a few changes each year to keep it interesting for the students and for the instructors.

“Some companies do spoofs, but we didn’t want to do it as a spoof,” she said. “A lot of them add tap and tumbling, but we wanted to be true to the production.”

She also said this year called for something different, as it is the 24th year for her company to present “The Nutcracker” and next year she said will be a traditional version in celebration of the silver anniversary.

Learning the funky version of the ballet has been tough, Whaley said.

“These kids have grown up knowing most every role,” she said. “They know the music, so you take it and change the beat and the musical phrasing, so it’s been challenging for them.”

Whaley choreographed Act One, Snow, Flowers and Sugar Plum while three alumnae of the ballet contributed to the choreography: Courtney May did Battle Scene and Molly Gumbert and Taylor Martin choreographed Act Two.

Whaley said the show will open with “The Dreams of the Winter Fireflies,” which is to the music of the Trans Syberian Orchestra.

“The music is fabulous and tender and it sets the tone to open the show,” she said.

Ashland Youth Ballet’s “The FunKikraKr” will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Paramount Arts Center. For more information, visit paramountartscenter.com or call (606) 324-3175. To purchase tickets online go to Paramountartscenter.com.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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